Almost 90 per cent of the country’s mental health patients are not getting proper healthcare services, according to the director of National Institute of Mental Health and Hospital (NIMH).
Professor BidhanRanjan Roy Podder says that superstitions and misleading information stop the patients and their families from taking formal healthcare services, a culture that leaves them in hazardous conditions.
The number of clinical psychologists and counseling psychologists has stood at 195, he wrote in an article published on the occasion of the World Mental Health Day 2020 on Saturday.
“Psychiatric nurses and counseling workers are hardly found in the country to serve such critically important patients,” the NIMH director pointed out.
Referring to an acute shortage of medical experts, the article mentioned that there are a total of 260 psychiatrists in the country at present to serve the mental health patients.
Almost 17 per cent (16.8 per cent as calculated) Bangladeshi adults aged above 18 years are suffering from mental health issues, according to a survey conducted by the NIMH with technical support from the World Health Organisation.
It also found that about 14 per cent (13.6 per cent) children aged between 7 years and 17 years are facing similar problems.
Only two state-run specialised hospitals – National Institute of Mental Health and Hospital (NIMH) and Pabna Mental Hospital –are providing treatment for the mental patients.
A total of 56 mental health departments, both at public and private medical colleges including Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), are there for those patients.
However, the number of complete outdoor and indoor mental health departments is 10 so far.
Psychiatrists, clinical psychologist, counseling psychologists, psychiatric nurses and social workers are required to treat such patients, the article said.
Due to long-term mental health ailments, BidhanRanjan Roy Podder regretted, average life expectancy has dropped 10 years.
“The main reason for suicide is identified as mental problem. Six out of 1.0 million people in the country now commit suicide,” he added.
The expert recommended that psychiatrists, who would work as referral consultants at the district level, should be appointed at District Sadar Hospitals.
The Upazila Health Complexes have to be turned into primary mental healthcare centres, he insisted.
A medical officer, having training in psychiatry, is also recommended for each health complex.